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About beliefs and "scientific impotence" - Page 7

post #91 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prog Rock Man View Post

You can define truth and we all have a very good idea about how truth applies and works in our lives. The problem only arises when philosophers get in on the act.


Well, I think that philosophers have point when they, like Wittgenstein, point out how inaccurate language is. "Truth" is a very difficult word to define, it will work on concrete examples in our daily lives, i.e. the color green is green, a chair is a chair. But when it comes to more abstract use of the word "truth", the truth of an American, an Inuit, a North Korean and a Taliban will be completely different.

 

I am sorry that your experiences from studying philosophy has made you dislike it so much. But to my understanding it was the more theoretical branch, and to me theoretical philosophy tries to go into areas it cannot handle, such as defining the world outside of us. Philosophy should be directed at man itself.

post #92 of 150

Astrology has little practical application, however, it still is scientific observation with some crazy computations :) it just happens their conclusions are very often imaginary. Likewise, religion is also a science, just sometimes with some crazy hypotheses, or "truths" that have no existence in the physical world or even claim to pertain to the physical world (ie, the afterlife). Hollow earth theory would be fringe science. Cooking is a science, at the mercy of the ever fallible sense of taste.

 

"If you do not desire some special traits, why is there even something such a eugenics?"

 

Eugenics is also the study of what traits are desirable. To know what are desirable genetic traits requires deep knowledge of many fields, which I don't presume to know, and don't trust the general population to know either.

 

"To me things such as eugenics is something best left behind, as it might lure man into selfish and destructive thinking."

 

You and I don't disagree on this, but I do believe if humanity ever reaches a certain level of scientific integrity, they most certainly can take the evolution of man in his own hands and do a better job than nature.

 

"Also, nature has got its wisdom and instead of manipulating it might be more wise to try to make the best of what is."

 

Just because it may be more wise to leave things to chance does not mean eugenics is not a science.

 

"You do contradict your own definition of science."

 

I'd like to know how. I consider science any attempt to understand something, even if it is blind men trying to describe what an elephant looks like by touch and there's no way they can form a good picture of the elephant by touching given how big it is. It is still scientific inquiry.

post #93 of 150

Eugenics is an application of science, but is not necessarily a moral one. The problem arises, of course, in determining what those 'good' traits are - you've suggested that '[t]o know what are desirable genetic traits requires deep knowledge of many fields' but realistically those desirable traits are historically culturally determined (e.g. Hitler and the Völkisch movement) rather than empirically based.

 

Natural selection doesn't apply to human societies as it does in nature because of the means we have available to subvert it (such as medicine, technology etc) and eugenics can be seen as an imperfect way of attempting to simulate that process. Unlike natural selection eugenics is man-controlled and hence victim to the subjective value judgements of what man sees as good and bad, whereas natural selection is based on an almost infinite number of complex variables that themselves rely upon a design-less environment.

post #94 of 150

You can discover the precise moment when a discussion on the internet has devolved into a pitiful waste of time by finding the first mention of Nazi's in an argument.

 

In this thread it happened on post #4.

 

The universe contracts to sigh.


Edited by Chef - 5/29/10 at 8:11pm
post #95 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef View Post

You discover the precise moment when a discussion on the internet has devolved into a pitiful waste of time by finding the first mention of Nazi's in an argument. In this thread it happened on post #4. The universe contracts to sigh.


 

Hehe. Well, I have to admit to be guilty for taking such a cheap shot. Often extreme examples are the most obvious ones. In this case what was just an example has become the point of discussion...

post #96 of 150

@Chef: I don't find this thread a pitiful waste of time at all - it's quite interesting to read the variety of opinions, especially on eugenics which is not oft discussed in a rational manner.

post #97 of 150

@ haloxt

 

Well, we agree that we see define the concept of science in different ways. One of us uses a wide definition and one uses a narrow definition.

So all of this time we have just been running around in circles. However, now I finally have a good picture of how you define science, and I find it to not be similar to mine.

 

Draca writes that eugenics not necessarily is a moral science and I agree fully with that. I have tried to keep a narrow definition of science so that moral questions will not be touched. The questions that moral considerations of science brings is a can of worms that I have not wanted to open since the focus then would be on what moral is.

 

Perhaps I should concentrate more on stuff like DAP:s and headphones from now on...

 

Anyway, my opinion is that science should try to avoid subjective value judgments or else it will be controlled by vague and subjective convictions of "right" and "wrong", "good" and "bad" instead of simply just trying to understand the world we live in.


Edited by Danneq - 5/29/10 at 9:24pm
post #98 of 150


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcrawford777 View Post

What I don't understand is why so many say you can not define truth. If I don't know the truth about something I set out to understand it. I may not be completely satisfied when I come to an understanding of what the truth about something is but I can certainly attest to the conclusion I have come up with as truth Someone here has to give me examples of why truth is so vague to them.

To be honest, if I didn't believe there was any truth to things in this life I would leave it, (life that is). I suppose that's what you call Nihilism. But it makes no sense that we are here by mere chance. The actual chance of that is so far removed it can't even be called chance.


I think that Scott_Tarlow gives you a good reply.

 

Just because we cannot point to an absolute truth does not have to lead to the conclusions you come to. An absence of absolute truth does not have to lead to nihilism as you call it. Just look at nature itself. It just is. Man is the only animal on this planet which questions itself. Just because there might not be a definite answer to our questions does not mean that there is no meaning with everything. But why do we have to know the meaning of everything?

Any speculation about our reason for being here will be just that - speculation.

 

To me the truth is vague since different people from different cultures and religions will claim to know the truth, and it will be different. Does any of them know the truth more than the others?

 

I do not want to venture into moral questions since this thread was not started for that reason, but some thoughts from Christianity do make sense. And those are present in other moral systems as well, both religious and non religious ones. The golden rule is a good example of a universal moral rule. It has been a part of basically all religions and it is the foundation of any persons moral. For me it is important for a person to be consistent - i.e. that thoughts, actions and words do not contradict each other, and the golden rule basically says this. "Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you".

post #99 of 150

Before moving on the the DAP section, I would like to point out that the creator of this thread, xnor, posted an article from a magazine and wanted to know why this is the case:

Quote:
"Regardless of whether the information presented confirmed or contradicted the students' existing beliefs, all of them came away from the reading with their beliefs strengthened."

 

If someone holds a belief and is shown scientific evidence that contradicts it, they will often be strengthened in their belief instead of revising it. Why is this the case?

 

I tried to give a possible answer:

Quote:
I am not sure and I can only guess. We all have our beliefs that are formed from early childhood by our parents' upbringing and enforced by the educational system. When we become young adults we usually rebel and look for our own "truths", but often keep the "truths" that we have been taught. Perhaps we see these "truths" as an integrated part of ourselves, the person that we are, and when something contradicts that we object and try to protect "our truth". When it is confirmed, we are happy that our belief is "right". So the beliefs that are an integrated and never questioned part of ourself is perhaps confused by ourselves as being our "personality"?

This is just speculation, though...

 

 

Does anyone have any other thoughts as to why it can be like this?


Edited by Danneq - 5/29/10 at 9:23pm
post #100 of 150

It's explained right in the OP.... It's because we experience cognitive dissonance when something contradicts something that is attached to parts of our life that are not easily changed. For example, if you spend 10 years of your life buying audio equipment only to find out it is all useless, you either have to accept that you've wasted 10 years of your life, or you can reject the theory and say 'well I didn't waste 10 years of my life, therefore this proves the evidence is false."

However, if the scientific evidence doesn't cause dissonance (ie we're researching it and we've disregarded our opinion), we do absorb the information. For example, a nazi finds data that lolly pop A is sweeter than lolly pop B. The nazi has no previous preference for either, but since he likes sweet things he now confidently bases his preference of lolly pop A on scientific fact.

Basically human beings don't like being told they're wrong. Call it self-defence. Call it saving face. If we research it ourselves, we don't feel like we're being proven wrong. If someone hands us a sheet of data that makes us look stupid, of course we reject it.


Edited by Chef - 5/29/10 at 9:42pm
post #101 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef View Post

It's explained right in the OP.... It's because we experience cognitive dissonance when something contradicts something that is attached to parts of our life that are not easily changed. For example, if you spend 10 years of your life buying audio equipment only to find out it is all useless, you either have to accept that you've wasted 10 years of your life, or you can reject the theory and say 'well I didn't waste 10 years of my life, therefore this proves the evidence is false."

However, if the scientific evidence doesn't cause dissonance (ie we're researching it and we've disregarded our opinion), we do absorb the information. For example, if a nazi is finds data that lolly pop A is sweeter than lolly pop B. The nazi has no previous preference for either, but since he likes sweet things he now confidently bases his preference of lolly pop A on scientific fact.


So now post #4 AND #100 (along with #94) mentions nazis...

 

But at least post #100 was the first one to mention lollipops!

post #102 of 150

Actually, what I just said about human beings not liking being wrong is a bad assumption. I don't think it's human beings, but I think that it's widely taught in many cultures that that being wrong is a bad thing and that it makes one less attractive to those around him or her. I think there are sub-cultures or groups that defy this though, and can happily admit when they're wrong because they recognise progress and don't feel ashamed so easily. It probably also depends on the environment. Among friends, it's probably a lot easier to say 'well, I'm a dumbass' because you want to belong to the group again. But in a work/test environment, it might be harder because you feel like you're in more danger.

post #103 of 150

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef View Post

Actually, what I just said about human beings not liking being wrong is a bad assumption. I don't think it's human beings, but I think that it's widely taught in many cultures that that being wrong is a bad thing and that it makes one less attractive to those around him or her. I think there are sub-cultures or groups that defy this though, and can happily admit when they're wrong because they recognise progress and don't feel ashamed so easily. It probably also depends on the environment. Among friends, it's probably a lot easier to say 'well, I'm a dumbass' because you want to belong to the group again. But in a work/test environment, it might be harder because you feel like you're in more danger.


Hear you and understand what you mean. Well, now I am contradicting myself since I said I needed to get away from this place. But discussions like these are very interesting.

 

I agree that it is a cultural thing that it is bad to "lose face" and admit that you are wrong. I admit it can be difficult for me as well. But in some cultures it is attractive to openly admit that you are wrong instead if insisting that you are not wrong even when all evidence point in the other direction.

 

So it might be a combination of not wanting to lost face and admit that you are wrong, and also that people's opinions and beliefs are embedded deep inside them so that it becomes a part of their identity. For a religious person to loose the belief in god can be devastating. The authority that showed the way in life is gone, as is a deep part of your identity. You basically have to rebuild who you are.

post #104 of 150

here I was, looking forward to reading 7 pages of psychology - instead I'm now having flashbacks to my semester of epistemology

post #105 of 150

As Danneq said, language is an imprecise tool. Before the discussion can continue it is important to set a common reference frame.

For example it is important to distinguish truths.

 

There are truths:

.

  • A perceived truth, which is personal, you enjoy silver cables, the highs are shimmering, your brain activity is different. It's true but not for everyone. Here, we are talking about perception.
  • Factual truths, these are facts, based on measurable, observable reality, this speaker has a +3 dB at 100 Hz.
  • The scientific truth, gravity is scientifically proven, it means that we know how gravity work, until something better comes along, Newtonian physics are fine until we approach light speed.
  • Common truths or should I say common sense, a series of experience undertaken in a non scientific way that has led us to accepted truths, eg. 0.9999999...= 1 (it's true)
  • Values, freedom is good, but an authoritarian government may be more efficient at dealing with a crisis.
  • ...

 

I may have omitted some other things we usually call truths, but the fact remains that when you are talking about truth, one should use other words or qualify that truth. The problem remains with words such as science, sound quality...

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